Boulder Starbucks unionizes while other Colorado stores battle for early contracts

Other locations in Colorado Springs, Denver and Greeley have followed suit. But no one has yet successfully concluded their first salary and employment contract. A shop in Breckenridge held a vote but did not agree to forming a union.

Plans to start contract negotiations were start-and-stop. Starbucks has accused the union of insisting on using hybrid meeting software, as opposed to fully face-to-face negotiations, which the company says is required by law.

“Starbucks has repeatedly come to the table to negotiate in good faith, only to meet with Workers United officials, who insist on broadcasting the meetings to sometimes unidentified individuals not present at the negotiating table,” the company said in a statement online about negotiation efforts in Colorado and other deals across the country.

“These delaying tactics are contrary to union campaign promises to our partners and are not what we believe our partners expect or deserve,” the company said.

The delays have resulted in staff in organized stores working without a contract. Workers say managers, meanwhile, have cracked down on clothing and food preparation policies, firing workers for what the union says are minor violations.

The company abruptly closed a union store in Colorado Springs in October, several days ahead of a scheduled hearing date. Starbucks blamed public safety concerns around the site for the closure.

In November, workers at at least three Starbucks locations in Colorado walked out to protest deadlocked contract negotiations. The action temporarily closed several stores, but there were no new hearing dates.

It boosted morale among workers, said Len Harris, a union organizer and former Starbucks shift supervisor in Superior.

“It was very successful,” Harris said. “I think[the company]is realizing that people are much more resilient and are starting to really strike.”

Shortly after the November strike, Harris, who was helping organize her store, was fired. A manager told her it was because money had been counted in the store’s safe at the wrong time of day.

“I had no previous attributions. I had no previous violations,” she said.

Harris is now appealing the termination through an internal process at the company and through the National Labor Relations Board, she said. In the meantime, she is keeping in touch with her shop’s union members, all of whom have been transferred to other non-union shops due to a temporary closure.


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